November 10, 2010

Watch out. I'm pissed again.

I read a tragic story today out of Detroit that really has me enraged.  An 18 year old high school senior had been accused of raping a 14 year old freshman at the same school.  Supposedly the two had been in a relationship of sorts, although that isn’t confirmed.  It’s also not clear if the sex was consensual or if her mother was just pissed when she found out and reported it, but it is irrelevant in my eyes seeing as the girl was 14 and the boy 18.  That is illegal folks, no matter how you slice it.

Word apparently got around about the incident and the accusation after a Detroit news channel identified the girl’s mother by name.  What followed was not empathy from her peers, but instead merciless taunting.  A schoolmate of the girl was quoted as saying, “People took sides.  Most of them lined up with him because it looked like he was going to go to jail for a relationship."  On Monday the harassment apparently became too much for the young girl to bear, and upon arriving home from school she committed suicide by hanging herself.  Now the charge of third degree sexual misconduct is being dismissed because without the testimony of the victim, they do not have enough evidence to prove the young man's guilt.  I take that to mean that there was no physical evidence collected after the incident, which is a shame because her mother found out about it within 24 hours, which leads me to believe the girl must've told her.  The girl’s family doesn’t have enough money for funeral expenses and live in a trailer park.  Based on this info, I’m going to surmise that they didn’t follow up at a hospital possibly because of lack of insurance and/or inability to pay.  This is not meant to pass judgment by any means.  I’m just coming up with a theory based on the facts.  It’s a shame, because physical evidence could’ve proven his guilt, but instead he will be free from consequence, possibly to commit the same crime again, and a young girl is dead.

I’m pissed about this on so many levels.  First off, the fact that the media so irresponsibly named the girl’s mother, which essentially identified the minor victim.  That is pure stupidity and I hope someone gets fired because of it.  Second, I understand that an 18 year old guy (or really, any guy) has raging hormones and wants nothing more than to get laid, but it doesn’t take a legal genius to know that 18 is an adult and 14 is a child and, consensual or not, sex under those circumstances can put you in jail.  Third, I’m sick and tired of victims of sexual crimes often being victimized again when they are blamed for the assault.  Whether they were dressed provocatively, were in a bad neighborhood alone, were drugged out, or were possibly in a relationship with the person is irrelevant.  No means no, and it is wrong to blame the victim no matter what the circumstances.  Lastly, the rejection, taunting, and bullying that ensued from her school peers has me completely disgusted and furious.  In our society it seems people have lost all respect for their fellow human beings.  There is a severe lack of empathy, and a lot of blaming.  There is little regard for others feelings or circumstances, and a lot of quick judgment.  Simple common courtesies seem to have gone by the wayside.  My new blog pal Alex wrote a great post this weekend that ultimately revolved around this same subject of how fucked up humanity is, and I couldn’t agree more.

Stories like this about bullying have become more and more commonplace.  There is the tragedy of Megan Meier, whose then-unique story of internet bullying reached the world.  There was the recent story of the Rutgers student who killed himself after his roommate videotaped him during a gay sexual encounter and broadcast it online.  In my hometown a teen was recently hospitalized with severe injuries after having the shit beat out of her by school bullies who picked on her because of her looks and weight.  But it is not just our youth who partake in such behavior.  

I have had tears brought to my eyes after seeing adults taunting and laughing in the face of homeless people.  I have heard grown adults verbally humiliate their children (and sometimes partners) in public.  People make generalizations about races different from their own and refer to them in derogatory terms.  I once had a white cop talk about the mostly black residents in the district he serves, stating that all of them are “animals, not people”.  In case you are wondering, I called his ass out and reminded him that his job is to protect and serve the public, and if he can only make negative generalizations about the public and see colors as opposed to individuals, then perhaps it’s time to find another job.  Fucking asshole.

I simply can’t comprehend this lack of regard for others.  It is sickening and it makes me weep and fear for our society as a whole.  Things are going downhill in this world very quickly, and in my rather short lifetime I feel I have been an eyewitness to significant decline.  I have different theories as to what led us to this point, but they don’t matter.  What matters is that each of us, individually, does what he or she can to change it.  If you have children, teach them about tolerance, restraint and empathy, and model it for them.  Force kids to think about how certain words or actions might make them feel and I guarantee you will see a difference.  Demonstrate acceptance of differences in race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and religion.  Go back to the basic values of respect, manners and selflessness.  Call people out on their bullshit when it is safe to do so, for at least the shame might cause them to think twice (in the case of the cop, it did, and you better believe he tried to backtrack). 

Whatever happened to treating others as you yourself would like to be treated?  If the world followed this, it would be a much more pleasant, peaceful place.  I realize it’s not that easy of a fix, but if we all did our small part to help the cause, it certainly can only help.

That is all for my soapbox this evening.  Thanks for letting me vent, and let’s hope that our society learns something from yet another life taken because so many others had no regard for it.

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